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Sovereign Class

Size Comp


Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Sovereign Class [1]
Type : Enhanced Deterrence Explorer
Unit Run :
NCC 1701-E USS Enterprise [1] - Upgraded [2]
NX 73811 USS Sovereign [3] - Upgraded
plus 1 others built in total.
Commissioned : 2372 - present
Dimensions : Length : 680 m [4]
Beam : 240 m [5]
Height : 87 m [5]
Decks : 24 [5]
Mass : 3,500,000 metric tons
Crew : 700 [5]
Armament : 12 [6] x Type XII [5] phaser arrays [6], total output 85,000 TeraWatts
1 x Rapid fire quantum torpedo tube [1]
4 x Type 4 burst fire [7] photon torpedo tube [8] with 300 rounds
Defence Systems : Auto modulated shield system, total capacity 4,590,000 TeraJoules
Heavy Duranium / Tritanium Double hull plus 10 cm Ablative armour.
High level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TNG scale) :
Normal Cruise : 8
Maximum Cruise : 9.9
Maximum Rated : 9.99 for 36 hours.
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 1,700
Torpedo Firepower : 5,100
Weapon Range and Accuracy : 1,290
Shield Strength : 1,700
Hull Armour : 1,900
Speed : 4,125
Combat Manoeuvrability : 4,000
Overall Strength Index : 2,765
Diplomatic Capability : 5
Expected Hull Life : 120
Refit Cycle : Minor : 1 year
Standard : 1 years
Major : 10 years


The origins of the Sovereign class date back as far as 2338. At this time relationships between the Federation and the Klingon empire had degraded significantly, to the point where war was considered by many to be imminent. [9] The President ordered Starfleet to place a design proposal for a new class of starship with very much greater military capability than current designs. This project was in the advanced planning stage when the loss of the Enterprise-C during the Narendra III incident eased tensions considerably. [9] The warship project was initially to be scrapped, but Starfleet was instead asked to continue the project on a research basis only. Dubbed the Sovereign project it became a theoretical starfleet battlecruiser designed only as a computer model, with specimen hardware occasionally produced to test the design principles. The intention was to create a design that could be put into production with no delay, should a future crisis present itself.

The basic design was to be updated every five years so as to incorporate technology advances as they occurred. Initially the Sovereign design was a simple re-working of the Ambassador class, emphasizing weapons rather than exploratory and diplomatic capabilities. In the design updates of 2350, 55 and 60 much of the technology being developed for the Galaxy class project was incorporated, especially in the nacelle and warp core design. The re-establishing of relations with the Romulans in 2364 led to a major revision in the 2365 update, and many elements of the Sovereign went into low rate production in order to establish a stockpile ready for rapid assembly.

In mid 2365 first contact was also made with the Borg. [10] The Sovereign project was activated and construction began on the first four ships of the class. However, it was apparent that much of the Sovereign's weaponry was based on that of the Galaxy class - a vessel which had proven ineffective against the Borg during that first encounter. [10] New weapons were in preparation for the next design update due in 2370, but these were not going to be available in the immediate future. It was clear that despite the engineer's best intentions, the Sovereign project was not going to meet it's primary goal - to get a warship into service fast enough to meet the crisis now looming.

The answer Starfleet settled on was to continue construction of the hull, propulsion, computer, and sensor systems of the ships already under construction but to suspend work on the shield, phaser and photon torpedo systems for three years. Instead, a crash development project was begun to field a small, very easily produced warship incorporating the new weapons [11] - essentially a replay of the Sovereign project in miniature. To cut size - and therefore design and build time - to a minimum the new vessel would only be capable of short duration missions. The vessel would be very maintenance intensive, but would carry only limited stocks of non-replicatable spares. Combined with limited accommodation standards and small fuel reserves the new class would be capable of maintaining full readiness for only six to eight weeks during independent operations, far less than had been envisaged for the Sovereign. An important secondary role of this Defiant class was as a development test bed for the technology which would be worked into the Sovereign project as soon as it was ready.

Construction continued on the Sovereigns throughout the late 2360s. With the destruction of the Borg cube in 2366, Starfleet deemed that the threat had reduced to a level which would allow the Sovereigns to enter service before any renewed offensive. The Defiant class was therefore suspended, although the prototype was put into storage rather than scrapped. The lessons learned with the Defiant were incorporated into the Sovereign when work resumed on her weapons, a process which continued after the USS Defiant was reactivated for use at DS9. The switch from photon to quantum torpedoes and the inclusion of ablative armour are prime examples of this process. In addition, the bio-neural computer system pioneered by the Intrepid class was also included. The first of the class was was launched in 2371 as the USS Sovereign, with the USS Honorious due to follow six months later. The loss of the USS Enterprise in that year led to a last minute re-christening of another ship as the USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-E.

The Sovereign class has emerged from the dockyards as Starfleets most sophisticated and comprehensively armed vessel. The vessel is equipped with a new variant of the Type XII phaser array - formerly known as the 'Type X+' for security reasons - which equips the Federations most powerful Starbases and deep space facilities. The type twelve has a raw beam power output some 60% more powerful than the Type ten arrays installed on the Galaxy class. In addition the type twelve has a shorter recharge time and can fire a longer sustained burst, giving each bank a combat effectiveness 76.4% greater than a type ten array. Since the Sovereign carries eleven arrays compared to Galaxies twelve, this gives the ship an overall 70% increase in phaser capability.

The torpedo armament is similarly impressive. The large quantum torpedo turret forward of the deflector dish is capable of firing four rounds per second, [1] a greater overall rate of fire than the two main ten round burst photon torpedo tubes of the Galaxy class combined. Backup to the quantum torpedoes is provided by photon tubes; four these are located at the base of the engineering section in pairs which face forward and aft. [2] Each is capable of firing twelve round bursts. [7] This gives the Sovereign class the most powerful torpedo armament of any vessel in Starfleet service.

The shield system of the Sovereign class is similarly the most powerful of any Starfleet ship; the design was modified just prior to installation in order to increase effectiveness against both high energy tractor beams and phased polaron particles, measures clearly aimed at the Borg and Dominion respectively. Under normal operation the shield modulation frequencies are under the control of the ships computer system, which continually evaluates incoming weapons fire and automatically re-modulates the shields to give the most effective possible defence. It is thought - hoped - that this system will also enable the Sovereign class shield system to prevent beam-through by Borg transporter technology.

The warp engines of the Sovereign are of a new design which eliminates subspace distortion effects inherent to standard warp drives, a feature now becoming common on most Starfleet ships. [7] The Sovereign class is currently the fastest vessel in Starfleet, with a maximum cruise speed of Warp 9.9 and a top speed of Warp 9.99 for up to twenty four hours. The very high cruise speed is intended to allow the ship to deploy as rapidly as possible to potential trouble spots. Her Impulse drive system is the most sophisticated model in production, giving the Sovereign class a manoeuvrability equal to that of a vessel one quarter its size.

The Sovereign's baptism of fire came in 2373 when a Borg vessel again attacked the Federation. [1] The USS Sovereign herself was too far away to participate. The only other Sovereign in service - the USS Enterprise - was ordered to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone rather than join the fleet engaging the Borg, a curious decision [1] since engaging the Borg is what the ship was specifically designed for. Captain Picard disobeyed this order and joined the battle in Earth orbit, co-ordinating a mass strike on a weak point on the cube and destroying it. The Enterprise was subsequently pulled into the past by the Borg and almost assimilated. The crew were successful in defeating the Borg and returning to 2373. [1] Captain Picard was subsequently ruled to have been justified in disobeying his orders, and continues in command of the Enterprise.

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 Star Trek : First Contact
2 Star Trek : Nemesis
3 'Star Trek : Bridge Commander' computer game
4 Star Trek Chronology Page 138. Given a length of 685 metres by its creator, but the Encyclopedia can probably be considered more canon. Stated by Picard to be 'almost seven hundred metres' in First Contact.
5 Generic official information
6 Generic canonical information
7 Rick Sternback
8 Star Trek : Insurrection
9 TNG 3 Yesterday's Enterprise
10 TNG 2 Q Who
11 DS9 3 The Search, Part 1
Film: Star Trek : First Contact
Film: Star Trek : Nemesis
Source : 'Star Trek : Bridge Commander' computer game
Book : Star Trek Chronology
Comment : Page 138. Given a length of 685 metres by its creator, but the Encyclopedia can probably be considered more canon. Stated by Picard to be 'almost seven hundred metres' in First Contact.
Series : Season
Episode : Generic official information
Source : Generic canonical information
Source : Rick Sternback
Film: Star Trek : Insurrection
Series : TNG Season 3
Episode : Yesterday's Enterprise
Series : TNG Season 2
Episode : Q Who
Series : DS9 Season 3
Episode : The Search, Part 1


The Sovereign class is, of course, one of the most talked-about Starships ever. You'll find just about every shade of opinion there is about this ship - some love it, some hate it! Personally I think she's absolutely gorgeous.

The initial design work was done by John Eaves. The "Star Trek The Next Generation Sketch Book" has the following quote from Mr. Eaves regarding his initial concept : "I wanted a sleek, very fast ship with favourite elements from all the starships that had gone before, especially Bill Georges Excelsior. Everyone knows the basic shape; the saucer section, the body, the two nacelles. They've been arranged so many times in so many beautiful ways, I thought 'well how will I approach this?'. I decided to start with a really sleek design. While all of the Enterprises were beautiful, none of them had a really streamlined, 'warp speed' look. We have the 'cadillacs' of starships; I wanted a porsche'.

And he certainly got one - the E-E always looks like she's doing about warp five, even when standing still! Mr. Eaves mentions the Excelsior, and it's clear that the Sovereign is meant to be a descendant of that ship, as well as a larger sister to the Intrepid class. I took that as my own starting point for the Sovereign - first I made her just about as fast as I dared at warp 9.99. Although the timeline of the events during the first twenty minutes or so of 'First Contact' is not very clear, the Enterprise certainly seems to travel from the Romulan border to Earth pretty quickly - a couple of days at most, I'd say. I decided to bump the normal cruise speed up from warp 6 to warp 8, and the maximum cruise up to warp 9.9, because of this. Some have claimed a transwarp for the Sovereign, but I don't think this is at all likely myself.

Probably the biggest arguments centre around the ships armament. Again, you'll find every shade of opinion out there. Here is what we know for sure :

The turret tube under the saucer fires Quantum torpedoes, and can fire at least four per second. As seen in "First Contact".

In addition to this, both the Star Trek Fact Files and Greg Eaves's production sketches show another four photon torpedo tubes at the base of the engineering hull, two forward and two aft. The forward pair are visible - just - immediately below and aft of the deflector dish in the first picture on the images page, accessible via the button above. These are seen firing in "Star Trek : Nemesis", and script dialogue indicates that they are photons. The sketches by Mr. Eaves also clearly label them as such.

The Fact Files also indicates that there are two more quantum torpedo tubes on the saucer section, either side of the secondary navigational deflector, but these have never been seen operating. In "Star Trek : Insurrection" a photon tube is seen firing aft, with the torps appearing to come from somewhere on the dorsal engineering hull. There is no tube visible on the ship here, however. My assumption is that the Fact Files are mistaken, and that the Insurrection torpedoes came from the lower photon tubes with the angle just making it look like they came from somewhere else.

Altogether then, this makes no less than five torpedo tubes on the Sovereign - four photon, one quantum. Rick Sternbach has indicated that the secondary tubes can fire up to twelve torpedoes at a time each, compared to the ten at a time for Galaxy classes two tubes.

Given all this firepower, it seems to me that the Sovereign is part of the current trend towards militarising Starfleet. Given this, I decided to class her as a Battlecruiser - though in line with the politically correct Federations naming of the Defiant as an 'escort vessel', I gave the Sovereign the official tag of 'enhanced deterrence explorer' - i.e. a ship built to scare the hell out of the bad guys! In line with this I have assumed ablative armour and boosted structural integrity fields.

The history I thought up for the ship is basically intended to explain how she cropped up so quickly. The designer is reported as saying the Sovereign is built to fight the Borg - that gives us only about seven years from conception to service, compared to twenty years for the Galaxy class. So I came up with the idea that there was a kind of emergency plan that the Federation had been running for decades, designing a warship that could go into near-immediate production when it was needed. I had to twist it around a bit to fit the Defiant in, but overall I think it works fairly well.

With Nemesis, the creators decided to add some more weapons to the Sovereign; three aft facing torpedo tubes, two forward facing, and four more phaser arrays. I've split the page into a standard and uprated version accordingly. I also cut the torpedo complement to be more in line with the size of the ship; there's no reason why the Sovereign couldn't hold many thousands of torpedoes, but the fact that she ran out during the battle with the Scimitar indicates a somewhat lower number.

For details of the changes to the Sovereign, see this article.
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 230,913 Last updated : 16 Jan 2015